Retainer Care: How To Clean And Handle Your Retainers

Home » Retainer Care: How To Clean And Handle Your Retainers


Are you undergoing your orthodontic treatment to straighten out your teeth and solve a malocclusion problem? As you come close to the end of your current therapy, another treatment will start. This one does not use braces; it is all about wearing a retainer. This dental appliance is used to hold teeth in their new dental positions and can be worn consistently for 3 to 6 months, if you are on an Invisalign system treatment now. After this, one can wear their retainer only when going to bed (8 hours minimum). Note that it takes time for your jaw bone and the tissues surrounding your teeth to get accustomed to the new positions of your teeth after having an orthodontic treatment.

Hence, you should wear retainers until your bite stabilizes and be particularly careful during the first month after your braces are pulled out. If you don’t, your teeth can take longer to get stable after having your orthodontic treatment with traditional braces or the Invisalign clear aligners. The period will even be longer if you have gaps between your teeth prior to the straightening process. And if teeth move back to the position they were before braces, you will be forced to get new braces. Since you would hate to wear braces all over again, even if they are removable, it’s advisable to wear your retainer religiously. Additionally, you must take good care of your retainer just as you did your braces.


Retainer care is a subject that cannot be overlooked. That’s because some retainers are fixed like traditional metal and ceramic braces and can trap plaque. Even if your retainer is removable, it is advisable to keep it clean to protect your teeth from plaque and calculus. Before you even learn how to take care of your orthodontic retainers, make sure you use it as instructed by your dental specialist. First, remove your detachable retainers when eating, playing a sport and cleaning your teeth. And each time you are not using your retainers, place them inside a box and avoid wrapping them in a piece of cloth or tissue paper because you can lose them easily. In case you lose your retainers, you will need to buy new ones and that will make you incur an extra cost you did not expect.


It is important to know that there are retainer cleansers on the market today. They are mainly the same ones that were used to clean dentures in the past.  Conventional denture cleansers are no longer the only options used today to clean retainers. Indeed, dental experts warn that while they are usable, denture cleaners are not always the best method of cleaning retainers. No matter the kind of retainer your orthodontist will provide to you, the following are things you must not do when caring for it:

  • Do not scrub your retainer. Coarse toothbrushes are too abrasive for retainers and can make their acrylic or clear surfaces rough and large enough for bacteria to attach themselves and hide. And if you create more irregular and porous surfaces on your retainers, it will be harder to clean them effectively and your risk for gum disease and cavities will increase. Hence, you should make use of soft toothbrushes and liquid soap to scrub your retainers.
  • Do not soak for too long. Soaking is all good until you leave your metal and acrylic retainers soak for too long. If your retainers have soldered joints, water can corrode those metal parts if you over-soak them.
  • Do not clean with vinegar. This substance may be great in other home cleaning activities but not this one. It will make your retainers smell bad; become more permeable and susceptible to corrosion (especially the metal retainers).
  • Do not expose your retainers to a lot of heat. It is possible to forget and leave items on your car’s dashboard when the weather is hot. Avoid leaving your retainers there, as well as don’t place them in the microwave or dishwasher. Further, never boil your retainers or always empty your clothes and bags’ pockets prior to throwing them into the washing machine.
  • Avoid careless handling. Whenever you go out to eat, keep your retainers in their box rather than the hotel’s napkin because you can forget them there. If you do, the waiters will throw them away and you will need replacements. As well as this, do not wrap them in a piece of tissue because you might drop them. Keep your retainers away from pets because they love chewing on things. As for kids, they are curious about everything; so, keep your retainers away from them.

Just like the things you should avoid when handling your retainers, there are those you should always do. Here they are:

  • Soak in a mouthwash and water solution. So, dilute equal amounts of mouthwash and water to temporarily make your retainer smell nice as well as kill germs. Seeing as mouthwash contains a tiny amount of alcohol, it is important to soak your retainers in it occasionally. This is to protect the plastic in your retainer.
  • Always rinse your retainer case. Prior to storing a clean retainer in its box, ensure that you clean and sterilize the box itself. Use warm soapy water to scrub the surfaces of the box or case and then rinse it with clean water before drying.
  • Clean your retainer based on its brand or kind. If you have Vivera(from the Invisalign maker), or Essix clear aligners, the best type of cleanser are Retainer Brite, Efferdent, Polident, or SonicBrite. Besides these conventional persulfate cleansers, you can use a non-persulfate cleanser like DentaSoak. Among the above, the most prevalent one is the Retainer Brite that boasts Kosher certification and this makes it safer and more efficient.

Once you follow the aforesaid advice, you will maintain the best retainer care at home. As well as this, make sure that you attend every appointment with your orthodontist. He or she will let you know whether you have been a great or bad job of caring for your retainer.

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